politics, when the sides describe a meeting as frank, it usually means they vehemently disagreed or they're on the verge of war. i talked to a prominent house democrat late last night who told me, simply, get your parachute ready. we're going over the cliff. meanwhile, i can tell you, george, congress is pretty much, you know, a desert right now. both congressional leaders on both sides of the capitol going home for the weekend. no signs of really anything going on here. >> as we're closing in, just 18 days to go, i would imagine that both sides must have fallback plans in place if there's not going to be a deal. >> reporter: well, certainly, no prospects of a major deficit deal. one kind of a fallback plan, republicans are talking about, is that they would agree to extend whatever tax cuts they can. that means the middle-class tax cuts the president wants to extend. but do nothing else. that means a big battle over the debt ceiling coming in the early part of the year. >> okay, jon karl, thanks very much. of course, we're going to cover all these washington stories, the whole week in politics, sunday on "this week,"